FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants to include just a few more teams in the FIFA World Cup and has an interesting suggestion on how to make it happen.
Here’s Infantino’s pitch: 48 teams would qualify for the FIFA World Cup, with 32 team teams facing off in knockout matches. Those 16 winners would continue on into the tournament’s group stage along with the 16 seeded teams.
Infantino spoke at Bogota’s Sergio Arboleda University, expressing optimism about finding a new format for the World Cup allowing more teams to get a chance to compete in the tourney.
“These are ideas to find the best solution, we will debate them this month and we will decide everything by 2017,” Infantino was quoted as saying. “They are ideas which we put forward to see which one is the best.”
Infantino’s long play here is making the FIFA World Cup more inclusive, like Sepp Blatter did before him. With 16 more teams than the current format, it would allow the brand to grow further internationally.
“FIFA’s idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event there is,” he added. “It’s more than a competition, it’s a social event.”
It’s not an awful suggestion, as the more teams the merrier. However, the change could have some nightmarish effects. Getting booted after a single loss creates a bevy of issues. If there’s an unfair call leading to a team-eliminating goal, there are no second chances. Would being a one-and-done team really make you a World Cup qualifier?
It’s going to be fascinating to see if Infantino’s suggestion gains traction and becomes the standard for future World Cups. The idea will certainly have detractors, but would make for some much-watch TV.